Regular exercise is beneficial for mental and physical well-being. A recent study suggests that women may experience greater health benefits than men from the same level of exercise.

Studies have shown that women exercise much less than men. However, results of recent research suggest that women might need less exercise to gain the same benefits as men.

According to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, regular exercise reduces the risk of early death or fatal cardiovascular events more significantly for women than men, and women gain greater benefits even with less effort.

"Our study doesn't suggest that women should exercise less, but rather it encourages women who may not be getting enough exercise for various reasons, that even relatively small amounts of exercise can provide significant benefits," said Dr. Hongwei Ji, co-author of the study.

The study looked into the physical activities of more than 400,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 27 and 61 through surveys conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics between 1997 and 2019. The researchers also collected data on all-cause mortality and cardiovascular deaths from National Death Index records from the two years after the survey.

Around 40,000 participants died during the study period, of which 11,670 deaths were from cardiovascular illnesses.

The study revealed that women who engaged in at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise had a 24% reduced risk of death from any cause compared to those with lower activity levels. Men who reached the same recommended physical activity levels had a 15% lower risk of mortality compared to those who did not meet the threshold.

Exercise reduced the risk of death from heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular events by 36% in women, while men experienced a 14% reduced risk.

"We hope this study will help everyone, especially women, understand they are poised to gain tremendous benefits from exercise. It is an incredibly powerful way to live healthier and longer. Women on average tend to exercise less than men and hopefully, these findings inspire more women to add extra movement to their lives," said Dr. Susan Cheng, a senior study author.

The researchers noted that women had a reduced risk of death compared to men with all levels of physical activities, from moderate to vigorous exercise. However, the risk reduction for death through moderate aerobic physical activity plateaued for both genders at 300 minutes (or five hours) per week, resulting in a 24% decrease for women and an 18% decrease for men. Engaging in 110 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week correlated with a 24% reduced risk for women and a 19% reduced risk for men.

Women achieved similar benefits to men in shorter timeframes. The researchers noted that women needed only 140 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise to reach an 18% reduced risk mark compared to 300 minutes for men and 57 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise to meet the 19% reduced risk mark compared to 110 minutes for men.

"Even a limited amount of regular exercise can provide a major benefit, and it turns out this is especially true for women. Taking some regular time out for exercise, even if it's just 20-30 minutes of vigorous exercise a few times each week, can offer a lot more gain than they may realize," Cheng said.